Red Sands at The Broadcast Soundtrack Glasgow, 15/12/13

Posted: December 17, 2013 in Gig Reviews

An Exclusive Matinee Performance’. That’s how the debut album launch by Glaswegian band Red Sands is announced. And it is quite exclusive indeed. They’re supported by The Wicked Whispers, a band I already listened to when I was still living in the Netherlands, the Desert Willows and the Little Illusions. Their self-titled album is released on Electone Records and consists of 10 tracks, each of which provide a great trip for the mind and ear.

A Sunday afternoon is quite a strange time to go to a gig, but when I set foot in the dark venue, filled with trippy oil wheel lights, the delusion of being teleported back to a west coast venue back in the Sixties hits me. And as soon as the band starts playing it hits me even harder.

But before Red Sands’ show, fellow label members The Wicked Whispers play a good and interesting acoustic set. The first few songs that front man Michael Murphy plays on his own, miss the atmosphere their songs usually have and the band doesn’t seem to enjoy the gig that much. But they do know how to draw back the attention when the drummer and organist join in for the second half of the gig.

Already during the Wicked Whisper’s gig, but even more after they finish, the people start coming in and soon the place is packed. Not only old people, as you might expect of a Sixties gig, but maybe even younger people. Most of them seem to be family and friends of the band and seem to know their songs. A girl is dancing and singing to their music as if she’s part of the band herself, and each song she seems to be getting into it even more. Not only is her, after each song the audience cheering louder and louder.

The first song, Lady of Spring, sets the scene by laying a dreamy curtain over the audience and with eyes closed, you can almost hear and feel waves rolling onto a sundrenched beach. And as the show continues these waves pull you into an everlasting high, that is, until you’re rudely woken up after the last song and come to the sad conclusion that there is no encore.

It’s quite surprising that they play the song ‘Too Short a Season’ so early in the set, since it’s the only song you can find on their Facebook page (apart from the 1,5 minute long Widow’s Walk). But it’s also something surprising, since it means that they must have even more up their sleeves. And they do. Each song, the room is filled with more harmonising vocals, delay and fuzz. The only negative thing about this wall of sound is that it pushes away the sound of the organ, which seems to play an important role when you listen to their songs on the album.

Listening back to the songs after their gig, their music is best described as psychedelic folk, deeply rooted in sixties rock. It sounds a bit like a combination of the contemporary artists Jacco Gardner and Wolf People and the influence of the latter is definitely present in the track The Lighthouse.

But even though they’re easily placed in a genre as psychedelic rock, it’s rather difficult to give a good description that covers all of their songs. There’s a lot of folk brought in the songs by Neil Donaldson’s angelic voice, accompanied by impressive harmonising backing vocals and Gerard Espie’s acoustic guitar. An example is the intro of Painted Red, until it grasps back to the early surfrock of Dick Dale, which adds a whole new dimension to the atmosphere of the song.

Red sands is one of the few bands that know how to preserve 60s nostalgia, without sounding ‘old‘or unoriginal. And I would recommend anyone to go and see and, mainly, experience them. I didn’t get the chance to buy their album at the gig, but I’ll definitely buy a copy as soon as possible.

 -Words By Thom Rondeel-


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